Weiser: Standing up for fair treatment of all Coloradans

Wednesday, March 7, 2018 10:16 PM
Phil Weiser

Miranda Ellis didn’t think she’d need a lawyer. Then she learned that fraudsters had used a phony check to drain her checking account of money she’d saved to pay for college.

Joel Veracruz didn’t think he’d need a lawyer. Then a car dealer sold him a defective car and only took it back for $9,000 less than Joel had bought it for.

Like Miranda and Joel, Jamie Stevens never thought about what the Colorado Attorney General did, until a company that promised to help her reduce her student loan debt took $800 from her without providing her any real service.

Richard Martinez never thought about what the Colorado Attorney General did until President Trump ended the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals Program and told him that, instead of allowing him to work and pay taxes, the Department of Homeland Security would use the information he turned over to apply for DACA to remove him from the only country he’d ever known.

What Miranda, Joel, Jamie, and Richard all have in common is that they did not want special treatment; they just wanted fair treatment and someone to stand up for them. And while you may not end up in a courtroom this year, you deserve to be treated fairly.

The role of the Colorado Attorney General is to represent all of the people of Colorado, making sure you’re treated fairly, whether by the federal government, large corporations, or a fly-by-night operation. That’s just what a good attorney general should do for you — look out for fellow citizens, while leading the largest law firm in Colorado (the Attorney General’s office) to protect our freedoms, opportunities and land, air, and water.

Businesses and consumers are both better off when they build relationships based on trust. We need our Attorney General to support trusted relationships by holding companies who abuse that trust accountable.

Consider, for example, the case of Wells Fargo, which created millions of bogus accounts that resulted in unfair fees and credit harm to hundreds of thousands of consumers. Many affected families found it difficult or impossible to buy cars and homes due to the consequences of an irresponsible and unethical company.

Or consider Equifax, which collected your personal information — often without customer knowledge or consent — and was careless with it, allowing hackers to access the sensitive personal information of over 140 million people. In these and other cases, those whose trust was breached deserve protection.

Every year thousands of Coloradans like Miranda Ellis are victims of scammers who prey on service members, veterans, the young and the old. Miranda is a high school senior who was trying to save up money for college. Online crooks used a fake promise of a job to scam Miranda out of the money she’d saved to pay for college. Now she’s fighting the bank and using law enforcement to go after the scammers. The laws are stacked against her and meaningfully engaging law enforcement has required far too much effort. We need our Attorney General’s office to be more effective and responsive in cases like Miranda’s.

As I’ve visited people across the state, I have talked with many Coloradans concerned about their rights, their opportunities and their land, air, and water.

I am running to be Colorado’s Attorney General because that office needs to be the lawyer for the people of Colorado. My campaign for Attorney General is about standing up for people like Miranda, Joel, Jamie and Richard.

More than just protecting people who are taken advantage of, I will work with leaders across Colorado to address a range of important issues, including responding to the opioid epidemic, bringing broadband internet access to all parts of Colorado, and protecting water rights so agriculture and local food options can continue to thrive in Colorado.

In 2018, Colorado will elect a new Attorney General. I want to be that Attorney General and serve the people of Colorado. Together, we can work together to seize our opportunities and address the challenges that lie ahead. We cannot allow ourselves to follow the dysfunctional example of the federal government, playing political games and engaging in name-calling, rather than working to solve problems. We can do better than that here in Colorado.

The stories above were shared by real people who have contacted me during the campaign, but I have changed the names to protect their privacy.

Phil Weiser is the Hatfield Professor of Law, Dean Emeritus, and the Founder and Executive Director of the Silicon Flatirons Center for Law, Technology, and Entrepreneurship at the University of Colorado Law School. He served in the Obama Administration as a Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the U.S. Department of Justice and as Senior Advisor for Technology and Innovation at the White House’s National Economic Council. Phil lives with his wife and two children in Denver.